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China's plant resources need additional protections, experts argue; Existing system of reserves is failing to conserve wild plants

Date:
September 7, 2011
Source:
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Summary:
China's protected areas are poorly sited and fail to adequately conserve the country's vast wealth of plant species, many of them endemic, according to a new article. The authors propose seven measures that they say could mitigate the threats to plants resulting from the country's rapid economic development and the growth of tourism.

China needs to change where it sites its nature reserves and steer people out of remote rural villages toward cities to protect its valuable but threatened wild plant resources, according to an article published in the September 2011 issue of BioScience.

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The article, by Weiguo Sang and Keping Ma of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany and Jan C. Axmacher of University College, London, lists seven strategic steps that are needed to secure the future of China's wild plants, which the authors say are not effectively conserved by the country's existing protected areas. Many of those areas exist only on paper and are located far from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, where rare species are found in the largest numbers, according to Sang and his coauthors.

Protected area managers in many cases currently lack basic data about which plant species are present on their reserves and even the exact area and extent of the reserves. Consequently, the effects of China's rapid economic development, the related spread of invasive species, and the growth of tourism could drive to extinction species that could be sources of future crops and medicine.

Apart from creating well-enforced reserves in appropriate areas and encouraging the rural poor, who often overexploit plant resources, to move into cities, China should develop accurate data on threats to its plant species, develop specific management and monitoring plans for the most threatened, and encourage sustainable eco-tourism that does not damage plants, the BioScience authors argue. The country should also consider temporary protection of very rare species in botanical gardens and expand funding and training for traditional taxonomy, as well as experimental ecosystem laboratories and management.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Biological Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Weiguo Sang, Keping Ma, Jan C. Axmacher. Securing a Future for China's Wild Plant Resources. BioScience, 2011; 61 (9): 720 DOI: 10.1525/bio.2011.61.9.11

Cite This Page:

American Institute of Biological Sciences. "China's plant resources need additional protections, experts argue; Existing system of reserves is failing to conserve wild plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907075948.htm>.
American Institute of Biological Sciences. (2011, September 7). China's plant resources need additional protections, experts argue; Existing system of reserves is failing to conserve wild plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907075948.htm
American Institute of Biological Sciences. "China's plant resources need additional protections, experts argue; Existing system of reserves is failing to conserve wild plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907075948.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

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